Some years ago when I was writing a lot for Outdoor Life (I created their Big Buck Zone blog and wrote it exclusively for several years before I moved on to Big Deer) I received a packet of stories from somebody at the “Muzzy 200 Club” (author unknown, but as I recall, an employee of the club at the time). This club, which now appears to be inactive, was made up of an elite group of bowhunters who had killed 200-inch whitetails with Muzzy broadheads. This is one of those stories that I found in my archives, and the first of several that I’ll reprint in coming weeks. We can never get enough classic stories of how 200-inch bucks were felled with bow and arrow:
Not only had Dave Jones seen the giant Illinois buck before, he had missed it in 2002 with his bow due to a devastating equipment malfunction. That miss haunted Dave for almost a year, and he vowed to do whatever it took to get another crack at that buck.
Days after missing the deer, Dave developed some film taken by his trail camera. There in print was a picture of that same giant that had evaded his arrow. It was almost as if the deer was taunting him. Dave kept the image on his refrigerator as motivation for his quest. As the months passed, he’d find himself pausing to look at the photo or taking it down and staring at it over a cup of coffee.
When his birthday came around in March 2003, Dave’s girlfriend, Lisa, surprised him with a unique birthday cake. She had taken the picture of the non-typical buck to the baker, who duplicated it in icing on the cake. You can only guess what Dave wished for when he blew out the candles.
The following bow season, his birthday wish would come true, but not without a lot of hard work, planning and dedication on Dave’s part. Dave completely changed his equipment setup and practiced and practiced until he had worn out a set of carbon arrows and “Robin Hooded” four arrows.
In the woods, after moving his stand to an ideal spot approximately 50 yards from its original location, Dave stayed away from it all summer long. He bid his time until the first cold snap of the season. When he felt the chill in the air, he knew the time was right.
Dave climbed into his stand and within moments, he watched a flurry of deer activity. After seeing several small deer darting out of the woods, he spotted his coveted trophy just 200 yards in the distance. Dave clashed together a set of rattling antlers, which caused the buck to stop and look his way, but the deer continued on his path across the field and away from the stand.
After several minutes had passed, Dave turned around and hung his bow up on the hanger by his stand. When he turned back around, he spotted the massive buck only 100 yards away standing there in the open pasture. Then, the buck began to slowly move in his direction, coming closer and closer! When the deer stopped in front of a large limb, Dave seized the moment and drew. The buck continued coming and stopping periodically, but Dave couldn’t find an opening to shoot through.
Finally, the buck stepped up on a dirt mound only 18 yards away from the stand and offered Dave the perfect shot, which he took. Feeling the punch of the Muzzy broadhead, the buck spun around and ran back across the open pasture in the direction of its bedding area.
Dave inspected the arrow, which was covered with blood, but he wasn’t sure if he had double-lunged the deer or not. The seasoned hunter made the wise decision to wait until dark to go after the buck. He called his friend, Dan Lowman, for help, and when darkness fell, the two went in search of the deer. The blood trail was not hard to find, and in a matter of minutes, they walked up to the buck which lay still in the moonlight.
The elated hunter struggled to count the rack’s points, but there were so many that he kept losing track! Finally, he counted 36. When he eventually got the 7 ½-year-old deer scored, he was thrilled to find out that the buck’s 267 1/8-net inches beat the old Illinois state record of 251 6/8 inches.
In fact, Dave had taken the #4 non-typical archery buck in the world (at the time). The massive buck grossed 293 4/8 inches, had an 18 2/8-inch inside spread and 7-inch bases. A year’s worth of planning and wishing had paid off.